Seven Important Things Great Leaders Do Damn Well
Do you know about these important things that great leaders do damn well? Being a good leader isn’t about big, grand gestures. To lead people effectively, you need to motivate them and keep them on side. A few simple, consistent day to day actions can work wonders to make you a great leaders.
Once in a while you meet a someone who stands out as a leader. And they are more than just charismatic or likeable.
You can quickly tell, they think and act and lead differently than most people. However, people don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. Truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, self-examination and practice, they learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.
What does a leader look like? Think of two leaders, famous or not, whom you admire and respect.
What do they do that is so different? What traits do they have that help them excel at a high level? Leadership is not a great mystery. Great leaders have specific traits in common. These traits can be learned and developed — by you!
It’s easy to notice the BIG things separating great leaders from average ones.
Great leaders tend to be good public speakers. They tend to be engaging and interesting. They tend to be driven, curious, and persistent. But the little things that differentiate great leaders from the rest of us? Those aren’t so obvious.
If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity here are important things you must do automatically to enlighten the workplace.
Yes, it takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to become a great leader. In order to be the great leader you wish to be and help your team, there are a few tricks but important things that you will need to master first. Here are seven important things good leaders do damn well.
They Communicate With Impact
The quality of communication is not inherent in the words that are spoken, it is determined by its impact. Great leaders communicate with impact by tailoring their message to fit their audience and by leveraging their own strengths.
Communication is a crucial weapon if you are to motivate those around you.
The finest leaders strive to communicate in a direct and straightforward manner at all times, without ever alienating their staff or creating unnecessary friction. Although this is an easily acquired skill, it also requires an innate ability to listen to those around you and articulate thoughts into understandable words and actions. Whether delivering good or bad news, this philosophy encourages mutual trust and helps to establish productive, long-term relationships.
Communicating openly and honestly drives employee engagement, which is the connection and relationship that your employees have with the company.
How often do we as leaders hold back information from our employees and then expect them to magically know what to do without it? If you don’t communicate over and over again in an open and an honest way, you’re holding back critical information that will help your employees and ultimately the company succeed.
Great leaders also maintain open lines of communication.
A great leader is approachable and someone who can be turned to for advice and encouragement. An open-door policy can help facilitate a workplace culture where people feel comfortable voicing their ideas and their concerns, which helps everyone get on the same page and succeed together.
Be careful: One of the fastest ways to break the trust of your employees is to send mixed or inconsistent messages.
Rumors can spread like wildfire when people feel they’re not getting the full story. People need to know they can trust you. Be honest with them. Discuss any problems and how you’re addressing them. Some issues don’t have immediate answers, but an open line of communication shows that you’re aware and acting.
People want to follow great leaders. They inspire people to want to do better.
But when people are given vague directions or critiques, they don’t have a clear path to follow. That frustration grows into frustration with their job, with their leader, and even with their own performance.
Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined.
Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale. You need to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information with your team.
They Think Big Picture
Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to performance expectations. In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement — ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.
It is important that every action or decision is taken with a clearly defined goal in mind.
This strengthens the faith that each individual or team of people has in your leadership credentials. While the strategies that you use to achieve your goals can be constantly adapted to suit your needs, you must remain focused on a fixed final objective and demonstrate this strength of will to those around you.
If your values are the plays that you’ve pulled together to win a game, and none of your employees are reading or using these, then you’ll never win the game.
Which is why if your company is ever going to win the game that they’re playing, you need to as leaders first role model the values, showing employees exactly what they look like in action, and leading by example. It’s time to put your role model hat on and live your values and don’t just put it on from time to time but wear it in each and everything that you do.
Great leaders lead by example with an overriding guiding vision or purpose.
They possess an unquenchable passion for successfully implementing the vision of the company regardless of the disapproval of those individuals who fail to see the bigger picture. They don’t waste time worrying about day to day responsibilities or problems. Instead, they focus on where the organization needs to go.
Leadership vision is essential for focusing attention on what matters most; on becoming the kind of leader you wish to be.
An effective vision has to be rooted in your past, address the future, and deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It inspires you, and the people whose commitment you need, to act to make constructive change towards a future you all want to see.
In order to take the organization to the highest possible level, leaders must engage their people with a compelling and tangible vision.
A visionary leader who clearly and passionately communicates his or her vision can motivate employees to act with passion and purpose, thereby ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal. The end result is that everyone contributes to the organization’s forward momentum.
Without a clear plan for what’s ahead, you’re leading people down a path with your eyes closed.
All great leaders find their purpose. It’s clearly defined, and it is the catalyst for everything they do. Purpose helps to fuel their work ethic and drive their passion for what they do. More importantly, they create a purpose that resonates with others, and they communicate organizational values and vision in a way that brings people together to rally behind their vision, creating a strong culture of leadership.
They Walk The Talk
Every day, good leaders set an excellent example for their employees. They don’t ask them to do anything they wouldn’t be happy doing themselves. They behave professionally, treat everyone equally and try to maintain a positive outlook. Setting a good example will help your team to follow in your footsteps and work well as a whole.
Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.
Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.
As a leader, you must reinforce company culture and values daily and with consistency. Leadership culture is a living and breathing entity.
Strong leaders understand that organizational culture is dynamic and know it’s critical to reflect a culture of leadership through their actions. If your team sees you practicing what you preach, they will be more open to buy-in. Values should be a regular touch point in decision-making to ensure they are being lived every day — not just when it is easy or convenient.
A good leader will lead a group by example and demonstrate great work ethics.
You must show people how to be an exemplary leader and explain the difference between giving advice and harping. Great leadership is learned through watching the behavior of great leaders they are modeling after, so show them how without harping.
Trust is not something that just happens it needs to be earned. And one of the key ways that it can be earned is through owning your mistakes.
With mistakes come learning. And with each learning comes more experience. With experience comes the greater ability to identify opportunities and with opportunities comes improvements and innovation. And these are all things that companies need.
Start seeing mistakes as a strength and not a weakness. Start having the courage to own any that you make in front of your employees.
When leaders lead by example, it shows their employees that it’s okay to not always have the right answers and to make mistakes to have these learning moments and give them permission and not the fear to do the same thing.
Show your team that their problems are your problems. When they fail, you fail.
Work beside them to uncover difficult areas and work together to learn from those mistakes. You are the captain of your organization. It’s your job to lead the ship safely to shore, especially during a storm. It’s easy to direct when the waters are calm. A tough leader knows when and how to take control when the waves start churning.
They Are Decisive
A great leader knows how to correct course when the ship is drifting out to sea, but in general, a strong leader should be confident in their decisions and clear about their expectations. The worst is the boss who can’t make a decision. Clarity is key.
Making the right decision drives the right results, driving employee engagement and minimizes the risks to you, to your team and to the business.
As leaders, we should never underestimate the impact of a single decision. One wrong move and it can ruin what you and your team are able to achieve and deliver, as well as something as critical and fundamental as your relationship with your employees.
Successful leaders are expert decision makers. They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.
Good leadership means controlling any impulse toward impatience and reactivity on the one hand, and overthinking and delay on the other. They work to ensure that their understanding of the problem is complete, then take strong action and never look back.
Great leaders rarely question themselves.
Instead, they listen to their inner voice and trust it completely, allowing it to be their guide with each step they take, even as they move in directions that no one has gone before. To be a great leader, you must believe in this voice and trust that it will always be there to guide you.
Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.
One of the decision-making mistakes we commonly make is to give ourselves a lot of options. We figure that if we consider every possible alternative, we will have better choices and make the best decision. Sometimes we do this exhaustive search as a way to resolve uncertainty. The problem is that we are likely to get overwhelmed and make no decision.
Self-confidence is essential to exceptional leadership. You need to believe that you have what it takes to demonstrate your leadership skills effectively.
Overly confident managers deny themselves the opportunity to grow because they already think they know everything. Their lack of humility has them believing they are always right. Confidence doesn’t mean always having all the answers; it means trusting yourself enough to find the right answers when you admit that you are unsure of something.
They Praise Their Team
Offering praise to your employees is all about recognition. Most workers thrive on feeling appreciated. For an employee, knowing that what they are doing means something to their boss and the business, gives a feeling of worth that can motivate them to improve their work.
The happier your employees, the more engaged and productive they will be.
Receiving praise is empowering. It doesn’t cost anything to recognize and praise your staff. However, not giving them credit when and where credit is deserved can cost you big time. Regular recognition and praise go a long way, and when the time is right, offering promotions, raises, and new duties will help your best employees flourish.
When we’re praised for something we’ve done, we feel good.
And when something makes us feel good, we try to repeat it. Keep your team motivated by celebrating their efforts and their achievements. And it doesn’t have to be an all-expenses-paid slap-up dinner. Just a few words of praise, perhaps in front of others, will work wonders for your team’s productivity and drive.
People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition.
In fact, when we’re recognized, there are three chemicals that are released — dopamine, which is known as the feel good chemical as it makes us, well feel good. Serotonin, which puts us in a good mood and makes us feel a sense of pride. And oxycontin, which makes us feel a sense of trust, and connection.
Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.
Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues. They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.
Reward those who go above and beyond to drive the organization toward shared goals. Don’t be afraid to publicly recognize the top performers.
Everyone needs to feel appreciated. And those who weren’t recognized will feel motivated to do better and achieve more. If everyone is given the same recognition, regardless of their individual performance, what incentive does anyone have to get better?
Be open to and receptive to recognition when it happens and not just to let these important moments slip away.
Too often I’ve heard leaders say that recognition should only be for the big wins. But this is and can be a huge mistake. For example, let’s say that you have a team of sales people. If you wait until they get the big sale, you’ve missed out on all those little in between steps which actually need to be recognized to help your employees get through to the end.
They Are Accountable And Take Risks
Personal accountability necessitates holding ourselves as leaders to a high standard. At its core, it’s simply leading by example. However, to take full personal accountability requires a honed sense of self-awareness.
What does being an accountable leader mean?
For me, it means that you take responsibility over the professional success and personal growth of your employees. It means that you have the resolve to own up to commitments and promises that you have made. It means being answerable to the actions and decisions made by you and by those you lead. It means having both the vision of a leader, and the resourcefulness to execute on it.
To ensure your intention leads to actual results, ultimately you need to understand the requirement to demonstrate accountability.
It’s necessary to set clear expectations, and then ensure there is agreement that a commitment is doable and the goal is obtainable. Lastly, leaders need to insist on the delivery of the committed goal. They can provide support by setting up regular checkpoints to review progress, give timely feedback, and determine additional resources or support that may be needed.
Being a leader isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
If something goes wrong in your team or department, the buck stops with you. You have to put up your hand and take ownership of the mistake. You have to take accountability for your actions (or lack thereof). Taking accountability builds trust and respect, and models a behavior of accountability in your team.
When leaders take personal accountability, they are willing to answer for the outcomes of their choices, their behaviors, and their actions in all situations in which they are involved.
Accountable leaders do not blame others when things go topsy-turvy. Rather, they make things right — they are fixers. They step up to champion opportunities to succeed. They question the decisions and processes that shape your organization. They ask questions and they find answers — the best answers.
Accountable leaders do not avoid responsibility, they do not procrastinate, and they do not under or over commit.
They know when to say no and they know when to ask for more. If unsure about whether they can commit, they say no to the task and yes to the person asking for the commitment. In this way, accountable leaders provide their own insurance that they won’t let promised work go undone.
They Never Stop Learning
Whatever you’re working toward, it’s important to constantly assess, evaluate and appraise where you are and where you want to be. It’s something you do because you want to be a better leader, not only for your own sake but also for the sake of those who are part of your team and work hard to achieve the vision and goals you set.
Great leaders make self-improvement a daily practice.
Everyone can always be better. Whether from their own mistakes, books, classes, or the experience of wise people around them, one of the things great leaders do every day is learning how they can be better.
Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.
From the outside, they appear to know-it-all — yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.
Today’s competitive climate can make work a frantic affair. An ever-changing strategic landscape and endless streams of new challenges can make progress feel like a pipe dream.
Great leaders encourage those around them to spend time focusing on their own personal and professional growth. As a result, employees begin to feel appreciated, they reciprocate the trust that is given to them, and they regain a sense of control over themselves and their jobs.
Great leaders know when to take advice. They value support from others and bring others into their circle who can provide the counsel they need.
They realize how large their tasks are and find the resources and people they need to generate support, which is vital for success. You can develop your top talent by providing them with coaches and mentors, so that they have support when they need it.
Continuous learning keep leaders abreast of the happenings in their chosen fields.
We are all a work in progress. With the rapidly changing world, we have to stay relevant, effective and resilient. The key is to remain teachable and to continue learning at all times. That doesn’t only apply to technical skills, but to soft skills as well.
Being a great leader isn’t an accomplishment that can be attained by right or through a degree. It is something that has to be earned by those who are really worth it.
By following practices such as keeping up to date on the latest news from your sector; educating yourself on latest developments; and polishing up on your soft skills through everyday communication, you can ensure to reap the many rewards that consistent learning has to offer.
Great leaders do the work to develop everyday habits that keep them self aware and doing the best they can for the people they’re leading. Mastering these important things will help you develop your talent as leaders in turn, setting a strong example for your people to follow.
Leadership is an action, not a position. It’s what a leader does today that will make a great difference in their future.
Forget about looking for the secret formula or shortcuts to create a culture of leadership. You won’t find them. Start by taking a look in the mirror and reflecting on your own leadership. This is the first place to look for answers about how to nurture your leadership.
Being a good leader doesn’t necessarily come naturally. For some, it takes some practice.
You need to keep developing your own skills as well as those of your team. But remember that the small things can make a big difference. If you want to motivate your team and get them invested in the task at hand, incorporate these.
Yes, great leaders are born — but they’re also made. With these seven simple but powerful things, authority and respect are within your grasp.
Are you ready to become a great leader? How many of these unique things do you feel you need to work on? What other essentials should great leaders embody? Share your thoughts in the comments below!